A New Jersey police chief who allegedly wrote an email defending racial profiling of “suspicious Black people in White neighborhoods,” has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the correspondence.
Wyckoff Police Department Chief Benjamin Fox requested the leave during a township meeting Tuesday, ABC News reports. The December 2014 email, sent to dozens of recipients, identified the sender as “CHF BENJAMIN C FOX.” It was sent just a few short months after Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a White police officer — an incident that set off a wave of protests across the nation to denounce racially biased policing.
Via ABC News:
“Profiling, racial or otherwise, has it’s [sic] place in law enforcement when used correctly and applied fairly,” the email reads.
The email suggests that black gang members from the nearby township of Teaneck rob white neighborhoods in Wyckoff, and white kids buy heroin from black neighborhoods in New York City.
“That’s why we check out suspicious black people in white neighborhoods,” the sender wrote. “That’s why the NYPD stops those white kids.”
“I think that most police officers are finding the national rhetoric about police abuse and racial profiling quite upsetting,” the first line in the email reads.
The sender references recent occurrences of police-involved shootings in the email, saying “resisting arrest” was a “common thread” in each incident. “That resistance then creates your counter reaction,” the email states. “We don’t run from fights.”
The email, made public by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, has prompted calls for Fox’s resignation if the investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor proves he was the author of the email.
“Racial profiling has no place in New Jersey, and if Chief Fox sent the email in question, then he must be held accountable,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer said. “But removing one chief will not ensure accountability over police departments. This is a wake-up call for New Jersey to implement stronger oversight and transparency in policing practices across the state.”
In a joint statement with the Bergen County Prosecutor, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy said Tuesday the email appears to be a violation of the AG’s policy that strictly prohibits racial profiling.
An investigation continues. You can read the email in its entirety, here.